HER GHOSTLY DOINGS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
HIS LOVING WIFE SUFFERED FROM MENTAL DISEASE. SHE DIED & HUSBAND WAS BLAMED. COULD SHE SAVE HIM?

Submitted: February 04, 2019

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Submitted: February 04, 2019

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HER GHOSTLY DOINGS

Rahul came out of the Kotwali Police station that Friday feeling quite depressed. He was facing a harrowing and challenging investigation. Having lost count, this was probably his 37th visit there, he was at his wit's end. He was realising in his bones that the impact of twin tragedies of losing his beloved and also being suspected of such bereavement was taking its toll.

It was 1.15 p.m. by this time., and he had to reach his office in Nariman Point, by the next 45 minutes. Once in his office, he was swamped with a string of meetings with customers in addition to his pending desk work. 

Afterwards, thoroughly exhausted, he was returning home. It was just after 7.00 p.m. The Mumbai traffic, after a sharp shower during the late afternoon, was at its worst. As he negotiated his Toyota Etios through a particularly narrow stretch with the crumbling road in Andheri {East}, he became aware that his mobile was buzzing. Picking it up from the adjoining seat he peered at it.  The call was from his home landline. As the word “Home” appeared on his mobile display screen, he was jerked out of his boredom of the last one hour of slow driving.

 “How is it possible?” he thought, “there is nobody at home.” He knew that Sadhana, his sister had gone to visit her friends in Thane and was not expected till tomorrow afternoon.  

He took the call anyway. “Yes, who are you?” It was not a usual response from him since doubt was creeping in him that something was wrong.

There was no reply from the other end. He waited for a few minutes and with a higher note interjected, “Who is that? Why are you not replying?”  There was still no response. Now with a tinge of concern, he hollered into the instrument, “What is happening? Hell!” and waited in vain. This was downright odd, and he feared that somebody had gone into his house and there could be mischief somewhere.

Disconnecting the line, he called Sadhana. She was prompt in taking his call, and when Rahul told her about the strange call, she sounded worried. “Why don’t you call up Mrs. Mehra, she has the duplicate keys to our flat, can check out and call you back.” It was a good suggestion since Mrs. Mehra’s flat was just across Rahul’s flat.

Mrs. Mehra was extremely helpful, “Certainly I will find out, Rahul.”

A little later, she returned his call. Her voice sounded doubtful. “The door of your flat is padlocked from outside. There is nobody around. What can be the problem?”

When Rahul reached his flat about 45 minutes later, he was somewhat a worried man. Opening the door of his 10th floor flat, he entered and looked around with trepidation.  Everything seemed perfectly normal. The landline telephone instrument on the sideboard next to the dining table was precisely on the same spot where he remembered it was, and even the thin coat of dust on it was untouched. 

Eventually, dismissing the incident as some technical glitch in the telephone exchange, he proceeded to change into his pyjamas and wrapping his dressing gown went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. After putting the milk in the pan to boil, he went back to the living room to pick up the newspaper.

Then, he observed that the landline telephone cable was disconnected from the wall socket and hanging loose behind the sideboard. Wondering, who could have done this, swiftly he moved forward and picked up the cable to check and lifted the handset to find that there was no dial tone. That was expected, though. What was not clear as to how a call could go to him from this dead instrument.

Reconnecting the cable, he slowly walked back and sat on the sofa.  By then, it had completely escaped his mind that the milk was boiling in the kitchen. A few minutes had gone when suddenly remembering about it, he rushed to switch off the gas burner. But the gas was already closed. The realisation then hit him that something was definitely wrong somewhere. He gulped as a sensation of fear began to overwhelm him; nevertheless, he prepared his tea and carried the cup back to the sofa and kept on the centre table. His hands were slightly trembling.

How long he was sitting on the sofa, he had lost count, and that trance was broken by his mobile ringing. The mobile display showed that the call was from Sadhana, but when he took the call, there was no response. Thinking that there could be some connectivity problem, he disconnected and called her back.

“No, I did not call you,” she said. “In fact, I was thinking of doing that. What has happened? Any idea?” As Rahul narrated what had exactly occurred during last one hour, she cried out, “Oh my God! Something weird is going on in the house. I am coming back immediately.”  

Rahul, feeling slightly relieved, leaned forward to pick up the tea-cup, about which he had forgotten, assuming that the tea had become cold and he would have to reheat it. On the contrary, the tea was piping hot. He frowned; Mumbai’s weather was relatively cold at that time, and in any case, the tea would never remain so hot for so long. Was it another of those strange incidents?

Somehow his sixth sense was then telling him that he could be in danger; he should escape from this house.  Although he did not recognise at that time that he was totally wrong.

All the same, picking up the padlock and its key from the sideboard, he strode towards the main door. But another shock awaited him. As he attempted to open the door, he found that it was not unlocking. He tried again, this time with greater force; still, it did not open. By now, he was sweating, his heart was pounding, and mouth had turned dry in nervousness. He attempted to unbolt the door a few more times, but every time he failed.

At last, realising that any further effort would be futile, he staggered back on the sofa. A dark shroud of fear seemed to have wrapped him.  Taking hold of his faculties, he called Sadhana again. She was on her way and hoped to reach within the next three hours. She had the duplicate keys and asked him to keep calm.

Changing his mind about calling for any other help, he settled down to wait; still deeply apprehensive, he, however, felt that his eyes were closing; the exhaustion of the day and strain on his emotions had literally drained his energies. He was not certain whether it was sleep or he was losing his senses.

When he opened his eyes, the wall clock was striking the time of 11.00 p.m. He blinked and looked around, his mind was still fearful, but there was nothing amiss anywhere. Thankfully by that time, his faculties were clearing. It was now evident that someone was trying to tell him something and confine him to his house; the reason was not apparent. He sat thinking about what he should do next.  

An hour had passed, and Rahul was still in a contemplative mood when suddenly a faint familiar scent of the perfume became discernible. He frowned and looked around; it was not clear how this could be possible. And then, strangely, a deluge of vivid memories started crossing through his consciousness like a vortex; he took one deep breath and closed his eyes again. He was just there reminiscing.

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Rukmini, his dear wife, charming and beautiful, was the heart of the whirlpool of his memories. He was recalling that their relationship had started with a brief but hectic courtship, blooming into passionate romance and concluding with their court marriage. And their union had brought so much of happiness that it was a heavenly bliss; love was deep and reciprocal.

On the third day of their honeymoon in Mauritius, after their intense lovemaking, as she snuggled closer to him, she had whispered, “I am forever yours, Rahul, but do forgive me if you don’t like anything about me… remember that I love you… wherever I am…”  Rahul too had held her close thanking his stars for she was his lifetime companion.

But who knew that her adoring words would be tested, her persona would start to change, and Rahul would have to travel to the realms of the unknown?

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Soon after marriage, Rahul had understood that his wife had a terribly forgetful nature, so much so that this could turn into a risk not only to her but her surroundings.

That day, Rukmini was in the kitchen; she was making their breakfast. Soon she had gone out of the kitchen to attend to a mobile call. Rahul was sitting at the dining table, reading the day’s newspaper and waiting for his food after which he would start for his office. He was not aware that she had gone out of the kitchen.

Several minutes later, Rahul became alert when he sensed the pungent aroma of gas coming out of the kitchen. He called out, “Rukmini, can you smell gas?"

Instead of the kitchen, her voice came in from the master bedroom.

“I am not in the kitchen. I am talking to my mother. Please see what is happening.”

It was apparent that she had forgotten entirely that she had been preparing breakfast and Rahul was waiting at the dining table.

Rahul rushed into the kitchen and found that the small pan containing milk, which she had put on the gas fire for preparing tea had spilt and doused the fire, and as a result, the gas had started to escape since some minutes and wafted in the adjoining rooms.

That day a major accident was averted. If Rahul had not been at home, the flat and then the whole building could have been on fire. He was angry and expressed his annoyance to such an extent that both refused to talk to each other for the next two days.

The third day was a Sunday, and that morning Rahul after preparing his cup of tea was busy making an official presentation on his laptop. He was sitting at the dining table with the tea before him.  Rukmini had not left the bed; she had been sulking and had refused to start the day.

A little later, he tentatively sipped the tea and noticed that it had gone cold. Instead of going back to the kitchen to heat it, he went to the second bedroom to take out an official file from his briefcase. He wanted to finish his presentation first.

Returning to the table, he kept the file on it and on a second thought picked up the teacup to take it to the kitchen. To his surprise, he found that the tea was piping hot. Then he noticed that Rukmini was in the kitchen. It was clear that during his short absence, she had got out of bed, and the first thing she did was to heat his tea. He felt pleased about her peace gesture.

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On another day, Rahul was in his office conference room giving his presentation when he got a call from Rukmini on his mobile.  It was from the home landline. Knowing that he would be busy throughout the day and should not be disturbed, she should not have called him unless the need was critical.

Nevertheless, he picked up the call. There was no response from her even after holding on for more than a minute, so he called her back on her mobile. She did not pick up the call. He tried the landline telephone, but there was no answer. Ultimately, he managed to contact her after considerable effort through Mrs. Mehra. Then Rukmini’s vague answer was, "Did I call you? Why? I honestly do not remember much. Am I supposed to take your call on mobile?”

And on enquiring about her not attending the landline telephone, she admitted that she had disconnected the cable; she couldn’t give any sensible reason. Subsequently, what struck him very odd was her comment that she had heard some voice commanding her to disconnect and not respond to his calls.

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After two days another incident shook up Rahul considerably. It was an early Saturday morning, and he was still in bed when Rukmini went out shopping for vegetables. She had told about this the previous night and also that she would be back in time to prepare breakfast. She would even wake him up. By the time he woke up, it was close to 10.15 a.m., and there was no sign of his wife. He searched for her, gave her a call on her mobile which then he found she had forgotten to take, and he ultimately went to the main door to go out. Only it was padlocked from the outside. The result was that he could not even request any neighbour to open the door.

When Rukmini returned, she had only said, “Oh my God… I had gone to the beauty parlour… I had no plans to buy vegetables… it is not my job.”

These types of behaviour persisted.

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He recalled about that evening when Rukmini was lying on her bed and trying to write a letter to her friend, Sudha, in Dubai. She preferred to write letters instead of sending emails. He noticed that many crumbled paper balls were casually thrown around the room; apparently, she could not complete her letter and was trying to do so. In the end, she just threw up her hand and quit. He had never seen her repeatedly fail to do such a simple task.

By and by, Rahul was becoming very anxious about her. He wanted to help her, only unhappily, on many occasions, she avoided him and spoke in monotones. Her face on those days became a mask like showing no emotions.

That Monday evening, Rahul took Rukmini to Dr. Vilas. His chamber was in the main market area, not too far away from his flat.

Hearing the incidents of the past two months, Dr. Vilas motioned Rahul to come outside his chamber and told him, “Rahul, I am of the opinion that your wife is suffering from a mental disease called schizophrenia. Her symptoms are suggestive. She will need urgent treatment. But I must warn you that you have to be careful as she may also have homicidal tendencies although I am not certain. Any case I am going to prescribe some medicines which have to be taken regularly. Also, psychotherapy and coordinated speciality care services are needed. Please keep a strict watch on her.”

Rahul was thunderstruck. That his wife was suffering from such disease about which he had very vague ideas made him miserable. More so as he could not tell Rukmini precisely what her problem was. But he could make love to her and try to make her blissful.

Then Rukmini asked only one question, “Am I becoming mad?”

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The following day, unfortunately, that tragedy happened which threw Rahul’s life into mayhem. He was not feeling well and was returning early from the office. It was just after 3.35 p.m.  As he got into the flat, he found that Rukmini had a strange expression on her face, she was perspiring profusely, her hands were shaking, and her hair and clothes were dishevelled. Abruptly she spoke in a high-pitched voice, “Rahul… I cannot let you do this to me… you are trying to poison me… I am a burden on you… all of you are conspiring to kill me…. my dead father has also warned me.”

She just kept going on and on. He attempted to appease her, but she could not be held back. Getting out of the flat she went to Mrs. Mehra’s flat and started repeating the same allegations. With great difficulty, she could be pacified. Rahul understood that she was hallucinating and showing symptoms of delusion, typical that of schizophrenia.

In the evening, after an early dinner, as soon as Rahul had retired to bed and was waiting for her to join him when he heard a shriek.  Rukmini was screaming in the second bedroom. Getting up in haste he rushed to her, and as he stepped inside the bedroom, he saw that she was in the balcony, and before his disbelieving eyes she climbed over the railings and jumped down. Her cry spread into the gloom of the night, became feeble as she hurtled down towards the ground, ten floors below, and then there was an abrupt silence.

Rukmini had committed suicide!  

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What took place after that was a series of unending distress for Rahul.  Soon the ambulance arrived, and Rukmini was taken to the nearby City hospital, but she was already dead by that time. The Police too reached, and Rahul was taken to the station for questioning.  

In the days that followed, he sadly understood that as her husband, he was the prime suspect for her unnatural death. That it was a mere suicide and not an abetment to suicide or a murder committed by him became the issue with the police; more so, as Rukmini had revealed to Mrs. Mehra on the day of her the death that she suspected that her husband was attempting to poison her.

Soon the Police started behaving very irrationally with him, was deeply suspicious about his motives, and it seemed that he would be prosecuted for the death of his wife. That was unthinkable to him! He knew he was innocent, deeply loved her and his conviction would be the most severe tragedy of his life!

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As Rahul sat thinking that Friday evening, recalling his memories, he suddenly realised with a shudder that paranormal incidents of the last few hours had a meaning. The blank calls on his mobile, disconnection of the landline telephone, switching off of the gas, unexpected heating of tea, locking up of the main door, et al. were all intricately linked to similar types of past incidents which had originated out of Rukmini’s behaviour under the influence of schizophrenia!

Not only that, he could even smell Rukmini’s favourite perfume.

What exactly did that mean, anyway? Was she now in the flat and trying to tell him something? But what and why?

What was more, he felt that he was missing some other link which he could not fathom!

Perhaps something existing here would solve this supernatural mystery.

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Getting up, he decided he should search every nook and corner of the flat. He then went into the master bedroom. This was where she used to keep her personal things and spent most of her time and hence needed to be examined first.

Looking around, checking behind the curtains, inside her wooden almirah, the dressing table, the double bed and other furniture he could not find anything which could give rise to any clue. He then went to the attached bathroom, and not being any wiser returned to the bedroom.  As a last resort he bent down to examine below the bed, and then he noticed numerous crumbled paper balls lying under her almirah, virtually out of sight. It was somewhat unusual since the rooms were swept every day but could have been overlooked by the maid.

Was the missing link here? Picking up each of the paper balls and smoothening them out he found that these were from her writing pad. Many of those crumbled papers were blank, some had a few lines of half-written letters, and as he checked the last one, suddenly he became alert.

It was really brief, and her handwriting was unmistakable. As he narrowed his eyes to read it with some difficulty, his breath stopped for a moment. The words were revealing:

“I am sick. I can’t live like this. This is horrible. Nobody is responsible for my death. Rahul will understand. Love him.”

As Rahul read this, he realised with a jolt that it was a suicide note of Rukmini; with this, he could be free of all accusations of causing her death!

He would now prove his innocence to the Police!

By some strange coincidence, the Police, initially, did not find this when they had thoroughly searched this room after her death. Was it written by Rukmini, before or after her death?

No matter what, her love percolating through her diseased mind and from the ethereal world, was always with him.

 

 

AMITAV GANGULY

5th February 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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